Common Core-aligned assessments are developmentally appropriate – opting out does more harm than good

Assessments aligned to Common Core State Standards are not developmentally appropriate, and parents should therefore opt-out, Anthony Cardinale, a third-grade teacher in New York, argues in a letter published by the Westchester Journal News.

“Would assessing 8-year-olds using seventh-grade expectations be an accurate reflection of their skills or their coach’s effectiveness? Of course not. But this is what our children face with the Common Core exams,” Cardinale claims. “These exams cost taxpayers millions of dollars and have forced school districts to make poor curriculum decisions.”

But nothing in the Common Core suggests or forces New York State to use a specific test to determine if students have met the third grade standards. To be clear, third graders in New York are not being tested on Tolstoy, they are simply being asked whether they can do things like recount stories, describe characters and determine the meaning of words.

Cardinale misses two critically important points:

  • New York State designed their own test to align with their own set of academic standards.
  • EngageNY is a state-designed curriculum aligned to those standards.

What’s important to remember is that if parents or educators have concerns about how students are being assessed in a certain state, they can resolve these issues by talking to local policymakers and education officials, rather than blaming – or calling for changes to – the Common Core.

High-quality assessments are one of the best tools parents and teachers have to ensure their children are developing the skills and knowledge to get and stay on a path of college and career readiness. Civil rights groups have repeatedly encouraged parents to “opt-in” to these assessments, because they help ensure all students are held to high academic expectations and are on track to graduate high school prepared for college or a career.

Evidence confirms exams aligned to Common Core Standards measure the skills students need and better reflect what’s taught in classrooms. Mike Petrilli and Chester Finn of the Fordham Institute wrote earlier this year that most states previous tests set the bar too low. Their analysis finds assessments aligned to the Common Core are “plenty challenging” and reflect the core content of what student need to master.

Read: Parents and Educators Opt In to learn more.